Why small businesses shouldn’t fear recruiting post Brexit

Hiring intentions among small companies are down but, in this piece, we talk to the small businesses that demonstrate why recruitment can and should be on the agenda.

A study has found that the UK’s decision to leave the European Union has resulted in a softening in employers’ recruiting intentions.

The latest CIPD/Adecco Group UK and Ireland Labour Market Outlook shows that employers surveyed ahead of the EU Referendum were somewhat more optimistic about hiring intentions than those surveyed afterwards.

The proportion of employers expecting to increase staffing levels over the next three months dropped by 4 percentage points from 40 per cent pre-Brexit to 36 per cent following the decision.

Despite this, many companies are treating the immediate post-Brexit period as ‘business as usual’, particularly those with a skeleton staff and looking to grow.

For these companies, the need to take on help will often negate the uncertainty of the economic situation. Rahi Daneshmand, founder of Virtue Drinks, is currently the only member of staff in his company but is hiring for two roles currently, one full-time sales person and one part-time marketing person.

He says, ‘Even though our nation has voted to leave the EU, our business still needs to grow and keep momentum. To do so, we need to grow our team, as our company will only be as good as the team driving it.

‘As a small business there is only so much one person can do and taking this into account I need to hire in sales and marketing.’

Recruiting for growth

Companies with exciting scale plans will have the same mindset of growth over consolidation. Richard Harris, director of job management software app OKappy is recruiting, having just just raised a first seed funding round, and needs to bring on more resources to help scale the technology and promote the company.

‘We’re currently targeting the electrical and plumbing markets but we believe the potential is huge,’ he says. ‘Our early customers have already connected to over 7,000 of their own customers and subcontractors, they’t processed over 35,000 jobs and raised over £1 million of invoices on the platform.  Consequently we need to hire in technology, sales and marketing.’

Brexit hasn’t derailed the recruitment activities of Claire Price’s Smart Marketing Management, which provides back-office sales and marketing support. The company is actively looking to recruit new members to its business development team to drive growth and help develop its service offering. However, Price has noticed a significant drop off in interest in its roles since the EU referendum.  ‘Despite advertising directly, using social media, and three recruitment agencies, the number of CVs we’ve received has plummeted,’ she says.

‘My interpretation of this is that people are feeling unsettled since Brexit, and don’t want to risk changing jobs; perhaps because they feel better protected in longer-term positions in terms of potential redundancy payments, or simply because of job security (better the devil you know).’

This is in turn is affecting the company’s ability to grow. ‘We are extremely keen to find motivated, talented people, and yet – for the first time – are struggling to recruit,’ Price adds.

Employers need to start thinking not only about whether they have the budget and suitable strategic vision for recruiting, but about how they attract talent, says John L Marshall III, CEO of Adecco Group UK & Ireland. ‘Organisations need to understand the make-up of their workforce, how restrictions on migrant talent may affect them, and where they are strong and weak on skills. The next step is thinking about how to get the right talent through your door.

Marshall adds that, while there is undoubtedly uncertainty, this is also a time of opportunity for organisations to get ahead. ‘While there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for future-proofing against Brexit, there are steps that employers should consider. ‘These include conducting a detailed audit of their workforce, mapping current and future skills gaps and investing in training and development,’ he says.

Further reading on taking on staff


Ben Lobel

Delphine Hintz

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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